Slowing and connecting

By Lorna Prescott

This morning I cycled into Dudley in glorious sunshine and made my way to the fountain to welcome local wanderers. I knew that today’s World Wide Wander was going to be great fun when I was approached first by Mark, and then by Jane, each full of smiles and ready for adventure.

During the second tuning-in activity, after being invited to slow… right… down, they each began making beautiful discoveries and patterns began to emerge. By the time they embarked on their Street Quest I was feeling incredibly curious about the wisdom they might return with.

Jane arrived an hour later at our meeting spot, a lovely coffee shop and we chatted a little while waiting for Mark. When he walked through the door he happily exclaimed: “I really needed that!”

I have two favourite moments from Jane’s story. One was about an empty, dull looking street she was drawn down. There was nothing there, but she kept walking, and near the end she heard some music. She turned the corner to find three Morris Dancing troupes, in full costume, dancing to a small audience. In another part of town, she stopped to admire a beautiful building, The Crown, which she used to watch live bands in when she was young. Leaning back against a wall for a good view, a door opened beside her and the hairdresser from the shop came out and commented that people often lean there to look at The Crown. They had a good chat for ten minutes before Jane wandered on.

Mark’s wander perhaps involved more introspection. He really valued the invitation and opportunity to slow down, and he had found himself sitting down often, something he said he wouldn’t usually do when out and about. He noticed people more, and said he could have happily wandered for another hour!

Jane and Mark’s experiences filled my heart with joy. Both for them and how much they had enjoyed taking part in Street Wisdom, and in relation to a wider aspiration to cultivate a kinder, more creative and connected town centre which I’m working on with local doers, makers and creatives. I am thoroughly convinced of the value of Street Wisdom as an important learning technology for us to utilise.

As we walked back to the market place Jane commented that Dudley would never look the same again to her (thanks to her discoveries), that it felt really soft and much less rushed than she had previously perceived. Mark and I have plans to get together to explore slowing down, a journey I’ve been on for two years. And he’s joining the Collective we are convening to catalyse cultural change in the town. A total win for slowing down and connecting!

A huge thank you to the Street Wisdom team for all of your generous sharing and support for those of us convening events during the World Wide Wander. The more I learn about Street Wisdom, the more I realise there is to learn.